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Wednesday, 30 October, 2002, 08:14 GMT
Winona marks birthday in court
Winona Ryder arriving at court
Winona Ryder turned 31 on Tuesday
Actress Winona Ryder has marked her birthday in court as she and jurors watched security video of a shopping expedition that led to shoplifting charges.

Ms Ryder is accused of trying to steal more than $5,500 (3,500) of designer goods from an exclusive department store in Beverly Hills, near Los Angeles, in December.

The court was also shown designer clothes and handbags with holes where prosecutors said the star cut security tags off.

The actress, who is free on bail, denies felony charges of grand theft, commercial burglary and vandalism.

She could face three years in jail if convicted.

Crucial tape

Tuesday was the second day of her heavily-publicised trial at Beverly Hills Superior Court. It was also her 31st birthday.

The court was shown an in-store surveillance tape, which correspondents said was crucial for both the prosecution and the defence.

The tape showed Ms Ryder picking up items, entering dressing rooms and trying to leave the store before being confronted by security staff.

Winona Ryder in Mr Deeds
Ryder recently starred in the movie Mr Deeds
Prosecutors said the video showed the actress filling up bags as she went in and out of changing rooms.

They said she used scissors to remove security tags from 20 items and that she intended to leave without paying for them.

They also produced four items, including two designer tops, with large holes near the hem.

The store's security manager, Kenneth Evans, told the court that the holes were where the security tags would have been.

He said he later found a number of tags in the pocket of a garment in the shop, and that material still attached to the tags matched that of the clothes shown to the court.

But Ms Ryder's lawyer, Mark Geragos, insisted she was innocent.

He accused Mr Evans of changing his story as late as Monday.

Mr Evans admitted he made one inaccurate earlier statement about the exact timing of finding the security tags, but otherwise stuck to his story.

'Polite and apologetic'

Mr Geragos has said security guards targeted the actress because she was a celebrity and that they had lied about what they saw.

The incident happened in December at the exclusive Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beverly Hills.

On the first day of the trial on Monday, Mr Evans testified that Ms Ryder was "polite and apologetic" when confronted with the unpaid goods.

The actress told him "my director directed me to shoplift in preparation for a role I am preparing", he added.

Since her arrest, no film about shoplifting has been made.


Ms Ryder is best known for roles in films such as The Age of Innocence, Alien: Resurrection, and Girl, Interrupted.

The jury contains several of Ms Ryder's Hollywood peers - including the former head of Sony Pictures, the studio that made three of her best-known films.

Judge Elden Fox has banned the jurors from shopping at the department store during the trial.

It is not yet known whether Ms Ryder will give evidence during the trial, which is expected to last up to a week.

The BBC's David Willis
"The People vs Winona Ryder looks like getting more excruciatingly embarrassing by the day"
Ted Zerkowski, Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute
"One should be very careful about how one goes out and researches a role"
See also:

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